At COCA, we have long prided ourselves on being a home for people with a wide variety of backgrounds and identities. But for a long time, our dance dress code didn’t reflect the diversity of our student body. Over the last few years, we—along with the dance community at large—have been taking steps to correct that.
In 2018, we examined the call for ballet tights and shoes to be pink. Historically, pink tights and shoes have been used to create long lines in a dancer’s body by making them appear a continuous color from head to toe. This history, however, dates to an era where ballet was dominated by dancers for whom “pink” was as close as they could get at the time to “nude.” As ballet becomes more expansive in terms of race and ethnicity, it becomes painfully obvious how narrow this tradition is and how counter a universal call for “pink” is to the original intent of the practice. As such, COCA joins schools around the nation in amending the dress code to call for pink or skin-tone tights and shoes.
More recently, as we welcomed dancers back into the building for classes in 2021, we responded to our increasing number of students who identify outside of the gender binary by converting our dress code to gender neutrality. Rather than having options labeled as “male” or “female,” dancers simply have two sets of dancewear to choose from and can wear whichever ensemble makes them feel most comfortable in class.
This option is available to all students, regardless of their gender identity, and emphasizes what is important in our dancewear:
Allowing students a full range of motion to practice safely while maintaining proper coverage and providing instructors with the ability to see students’ form to make necessary corrections.
We have brought our dancewear partners into alignment on these changes, so that the entire COCA community can support our students in furthering their ballet education while affirming their ability to live fully as themselves, both in the studio and out.
Learn How to Foundation Your Ballet Shoes to Match Your Skin Tone
Artistic Director of Dance Antonio Douthit-Boyd walks students through the process of using foundation on your ballet shoes to match your skin tone.
Where to Purchase Dancewear
Discount Dance Supply | discountdance.com | 1.800.328.7107
St. Louis Dancewear | 9644 Olive Blvd. | 314.733.5678
Head to Toe Dancewear | 200 W. Argonne | 314.966.6258
The Dance Bag | 64 Four Seasons Shopping Center | 314.435.9600
Madison’s Dancewear | 161 Long Rd, Suite 100 | 636.537.5456